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Title: The interaction between task goals and the representation of choice options in decision-making
Author: Bobadilla Suarez, Sebastian
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 8330
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Most decision-making studies will focus on the value and uncertainty of each choice option but do not focus on the importance of the representation of the choice option itself. This thesis presents the effects that task goals have on creating the appropriate cognitive representation to achieve those goals and how these representations are dependent on the informational input within a given task. The overall hypothesis for this work is that cognitive representations reveal a trade-off between accommodating task goals and the format of the information sampled from the environment of the task. For example, ordering books in a stand in alphabetical order, to facilitate the task of retrieving a relevant one when necessary, reveals a material implication of such cognitive representations. As in many situations, the internal representations constructed by the agent embody the remaining degrees of freedom that map the input to successful task completion. The first two chapters in this work present how uncertain beliefs about ourselves and our preferences are either integrated or compared to fixed information about other agent’s beliefs. The third chapter presents the direct manipulation of representations of choice options by changing both the stimuli and controlling for the decision strategy used by the decision-makers. The fourth chapter presents how choice options themselves are represented in the human brain. The findings related to 1) the adaptation of personal preferences and beliefs to the (fixed) preferences and beliefs of other agents, 2) observed reduction in decision strategy compliance contingent on stimulus format, and 3) the task-contingent results for similarities between brain states of choice options, support the general trade-off hypothesis. The conclusion that can be drawn is that the study of choice option representations is underdetermined unless both informational input and task goals are accounted for.
Supervisor: Love, B. C. ; Sharot, T. S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available